By the time Zab “Super” Judah enters the ring against RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Judah’s native Brooklyn, N.Y., the 35-year-old former 140-pound titleholder and welterweight champ will have will have been out of the ring for more than a year since scoring a ninth-round knockout over previously unbeaten Vernon Paris last March.
During that time, the 25-year-old Garcia (25-0, 16 knockouts) is 3-0, with two straight stoppage wins, comprised of a unanimous decision over four-division titlewinner Erik Morales that was executed on the same night Judah faced Paris, and consecutive fourth-round knockouts of Amir Khan and Morales in July and October, respectively.
“No one is giving Zab Judah much of a shot on Saturday,” said Mike Coppinger, of RingTV.com and USA Today. “But I think Judah has the skills and savvy to spring the upset.”
But for Garcia, Judah will represent the sixth consecutive fight against a current or former titleholder during a run that includes decisions over ex-beltholders Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt from April and October of 2011, respectively.
“At 25, Danny Garcia is a dangerous young champion on the climb and in his prime,” said Jeffrey Freeman, of KO Digest.TV. “At 35, Zab Judah is a volatile former champion well past his best.”
Still, Garcia’s resume pales in comparison to that of Judah, whose past losses include those against Joshua Clottey, Kostya Tszyu, Miguel Cotto, Carlos Baldomir, Cory Spinks and Floyd Mayweather Jr., with all but the ones against Khan and Tszyu taking place in the welterweight division.
“Zab Judah could be dangerous,” said Norm Frauenheim, www.15rounds.com. “Simply because he’s at home in a bout that looks like the last stand for a fighter who squandered so much of his talent.”
While a welterweight, Judah split victories with Spinks, falling by unanimous decision in April of 2004, but winning the rematch — and the IBF, WBA and WBC 147-pound belts — by ninth-round knockout in February of 2005.
As an unbeaten 22-year-old, Judah earned the vacant IBF junior welterweight title — his first — with a fourth-round stoppage of Jan Bergman in February of 2000. Judah defended that belt five times, with four knockouts, before being dethroned following a second-round stoppage against Tszyu in November of 2001.
Judah won the WBO’s 140-pound belt from DeMarcus Corley in July of 2003. In recent years, Judah rose from a 10th-round knockdown for a disputed split-decision over Lucass Matthysse in November of 2010.
Judah won the IBF’s vacant junior welterweight belt by seventh-round stoppage of Kaizer Mabuza in March of 2011 before relinquishing that to Khan via fifth-round knockout in July of 2011.
“For years I’ve been picking Zab Judah in his big fights, and with the exception of the Cory Spinks fight, I’ve been wrong. However, why stop now?” said Rich Marotta of KFI Radio, Los Angeles.
“On the other hand, I’ve consistently underestimated Danny Garcia, so why stop that now? Zab is no longer a young phenom, but sometimes, these older vets can suck it up for one last big effort.”
See what Freeman, Frauenheim, Marotta and the rest of the 17 boxing insiders believe will transpire in Garcia-Judah, below.
Zab Judah UD 12 Danny Garcia: No one is giving Zab Judah much of a shot on Saturday, but I think Judah has the skills and savvy to spring the upset. Judah will have massive advantages in speed, quickness, experience and footwork. It will show in the fight.
Danny Garcia is very slow of foot and throws wide, looping shots. Judah should be able to use his southpaw jab to offset Garcia’s power shots while boxing him and using lots of movement to walk him into counter shots.
But Judah’s most telling advantage might be his right hook, which is quicker and more compact than Garcia’s signature left hook — a shot that knocked out Erik Morales and Amir Khan. If Judah can neutralize Garcia’s hook with his jab and hook of his own, it should be his fight going away.
I see him leading in the fight on his way to a unanimous decision, while everyone waits to se if Garcia can land the game-changing shot on Judah’s chin which has been questionable in the past.
Record: 4-4 [Last week's pick: Trout SD 12 Alvarez]
Danny Garcia by mid-to-late TKO Zab Judah: Zab Judah is usually sharper and tougher when he fights in the New York City/Brooklyn area, so I expect him to have success early in the bout.
He might buzz Danny Garcia or he might outbox him, however, I think the young champ will be patient and wait for the veteran to either lose focus or get greedy and when that moment happens — and I’m pretty sure it will — he’ll strike and turn the fight.
I think Garcia clips and drops Judah with a counter hook and then stalks the 35-year-old southpaw to a technical stoppage a few rounds later.
Record: 4-4 [Last week: Alvarez UD 12 Trout]
Danny Garcia TKO 6 Zab Judah: Zab Judah could be dangerous, simply because he’s at home in a bout that looks like the last stand for a fighter who squandered so much of his talent.
What Judah squandered, he can’t get back. At 35, he no longer has the speed and quick reflexes he’ll need to elude the power possessed by the confident Danny Garcia, who is just beginning to enter his prime.
Record: 5-3 [Last week: Alvarez TKO 9 Trout]
Danny Garcia KO 8 Zab Judah: At 25, Danny Garcia is a dangerous young champion on the climb and in his prime. At 35, Zab Judah is a volatile former champion well past his best. It’s a temperamental matchup involving highly combustible characters inside and outside the ring.
Anything can and probably will happen, including a wild melee or a disqualification to one or both of these street-wise combatants. Given the age difference, what should happen hopefully plays out much more professionally with Judah enjoying early success by boxing before his chin and confidence begin to betray him.
The manner in which Judah responds to the pressure of Garcia’s incoming chin checks will dictate the direction the fight takes from that point on. If Judah is unwilling to accept his fate and reverts back to his more insecure and checkered past, things could get out of control super quick.
If Judah is willing to play it to the bone and go out on his shield, he will in the eighth, on the end of another swift left hook from Garcia. I’m going with the the latter not the former, but nail down the ring stools just in case.
Record: 3-5 [Alvarez SD 12 Trout]
Danny Garcia TKO 10 Zab Judah: Zab Judah showed against Kaizer Mabuza and Vernon Paris that he can still shine against B-level competition, but when he steps up against the likes of Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse he struggles.
Khan blew Judah away in five rounds and “Super Judah” was fortunate to escape with a split-decision over Matthysse. The jury is still out on whether Danny Garcia is elite or if he benefited by meeting big names with huge gaps in their games.
There was age for Erik Morales, shaky chin for Khan. I don’t think we’ll get a definitive answer on Saturday because Judah is past his very best, and his chin has long been considered suspect.
The home crowd at Barclay’s will lift Judah’s spirits, but I don’t think sentiment will win out in the end. In boxing, chronology and the freshness of one’s equipment is everything.
I believe Garcia’s 25-year-old trigger will be faster and more prolific than Judah’s 35-year-old one. Over time, Garcia will dish out enough punishment to score the late-round TKO.
Record: 4-4 [Last week: Alvarez W 12 Trout]
Danny Garcia by late-round TKO over Zab Judah: Danny Garcia’s defensive deficiencies, combined with Zab Judah’s power, could lead to an upset.
But their histories indicate that Garica will find a way to win yet another big fight and Judah will come up short in yet another big fight. Look for Garcia to take Judah’s power well and wear down his 35-year-old opponent late in the fight.
Record: 1-2 [Last week: Alvarez SD 12 Trout]